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NICE (Cost-effective Drugs)

Volume 515: debated on Tuesday 7 September 2010

12. What recent discussions he has had on the effectiveness of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s procedures to review the cost-effectiveness of drugs; and if he will make a statement. (13158)

Ministers discuss NICE’s work from time to time as part of routine business. We attach great importance to the work NICE does in giving advice to commissioners and clinicians on the relative clinical and cost-effectiveness of treatments. The right hon. Gentleman will know that we also propose reforms that will better reflect the value of new drugs in the relevant prices paid by the NHS.

In thanking the Minister for that helpful reply, I note that my question rather overlaps with the pertinent question just asked by the hon. Member for York Central (Hugh Bayley). Can the Minister give us any indication of where the Government, at this stage of their Administration, are on the proposed cancer drugs fund, particularly with reference to the drugs used for kidney cancer treatment, which NICE is still evaluating? Can these drugs be issued under the interim cancer drugs fund, not least given the terrible delays some patients face with the local PCTs, when by the time things are resolved it is sometimes, sadly, too late?

May I reassure the right hon. Gentleman that we will shortly consult on the cancer drugs fund. On the question of Afinitor, in which I know he has a particular interest, I appreciate that there has been some concern expressed by families and patients about the issuing of the interim guidance. I would like to emphasise that the guidance is only interim, that the appraisal is ongoing and that we await the final guidance from NICE. I hope that he will be reassured that, since the publication of the draft guidance, the manufacturer of Afinitor has proposed a revised patient access scheme for the drug, which is now being considered as part of the NICE appraisal. In the light of that, we will have to await the announcement of the final decision.